Before I say anything else, let me start off by saying that I am in no way a fan of Nicki Minaj. That being said, I’m neither a troll nor a hater. While I admire how she was able to come from nothing, as it is said, and rise to the level of fame she has attained, that’s it. Truthfully, I admire it and am amazed by it at the same time, since I honestly do not think she has anything resembling talent. If saying that, leads her fans to brand me a hater then so be it. Why I say all this is because I’m about to express some opinions about the performer, born Tanya Onika Maraj, that are not going to be very positive.
You were warned.
Being a celebrity, Minaj has the distinct advantage of always being given an opportunity to speak on a public forum, be it in interviews, concerts, or on shows like American Idol, which she currently holds a position as a celebrity judge.
When you’re in a position of power and authority, or a celebrity, people tend to listen to what you say. It would make sense, then that those who attain that level should feel they have to act responsibly when they do, in fact, open their mouths in public. Sadly, that seldom proves to be the case. Celebrities have the power to get members of the public to latch on to practically everything they do and say. Unfortunately they are probably the worst at choosing what they say when microphones are shoved in their faces.
Such a case happened during last week’s installment of Idol when 20-year-old contestant, Zoanette Johnson brought the house down with her performance of Circle of Life. The audience and judges were moved. Unfortunately, Johnson’s performance was so moving it prompted Minaj to make a move of her own as she proceeded to open her mouth and securely wedge her foot inside.
As she praised Johnson for her performance, Maraj thought it would be a good idea to liken the young contestant’s background to her own, saying:
I’m so proud that this place gives people like you and people like me, who came from absolutely nothing, a place that we didn’t think we’d make it out alive from, it gives us the chance. Thank you.
For those who don’t know, Zoanette Johnson comes from Liberia, a country that has been engulfed in civil war since the 80s. Minaj, originally, was born in Trinidad and Tobago, more specifically, St. James, Trinidad.
Waitaminute! I’M FROM TRINIDAD!!! In fact, I’m here, in Trinidad, right now.
Okay, maybe I missed something, but I’m having a hard time seeing how this comparison fits. How is Trinidad a place where someone may think they’d not “make it out alive from”? There’s no civil war here. Well… At least I don’t think so. Sometimes I tend not to notice things. I decided to go take a look outside…
Hmm… Nope. No civil war here.
No war here either.
Okay. To be honest I took this one in particular more than a year ago. But isn’t it just the most beautiful, sunny day?
Naturally, one could see how her making such a comparison on a live television program that is viewed worldwide could have me a bit perturbed. Okay, I’ll be honest, I was really fucking pissed. It was bad enough when she was quoted in November as saying the number of people living with AIDS here in T&T was a quarter million (10 times the actual figure, by the way). Now she’s creating an image in the world’s mind that T&T is comparable to a warzone.
Still, I’m not one to go off blindly myself. Instead, I try to see this story from both sides. Looking at her life, Maraj did reportedly grow up with a drug-addict father, who was also abusive. She migrated to the United States at age 5 after her father reportedly tried to burn the family home down in an attempt to kill her mother. So, yes, in that light she could say she might not have made it out alive from that situation. But that’s not what she said and it wasn’t long before a few people started taking to the news sites and social networks to speak in support of Maraj’s statement, blindly tramping down the path she barely started cutting. As I said, she’s a celebrity, people listen to her.
Yes, Trinidad and Tobago has its fair share of crime. In fact, anyone will tell you there’s more than enough crime to go around here in T&T. Yes, our leaders have done and said and continue to do and say things that not all members of the general public agree with. In fact, a lot of the time, we’re left scratching our heads in disbelief. But those political leaders were democratically elected and, if the public so decides, they can and will be replaced in a free and fair electoral process. Yes, there are those living in poverty as well.
So, yes, Minaj (And all those who were so quick to chime-in online in agreement with her remark), T&T isn’t perfect. Thank goodness none of you live in a place where none of those problems exist. Right?
Truth is, comparing T&T and Liberia is like comparing apples and oranges. Liberia has existed in a state of bloody civil war for decades where hundreds of thousands have died and many more have been forced to flee the country. The UN still maintains a presence of about 15,000 peacekeepers there. In recent history, T&T had one attempted coup back in 1990, which you weren’t even in the country for since you had already migrated. It lasted all of six days and ended with the insurrectionists negotiating a surrender and democracy being restored
In no way would I dare make fun of or downplay what the people of Liberia have had to undergo these past few decades. Too bad I can’t say the same for you, Minaj. I highly recommend getting your facts straight before you decide to speak on a public forum. Especially if you’re talking about things here in old T&T, since, obviously, you seem to have a little problem with that. You’re obviously out of touch with things here in the nation of your birth (I suspect leaving the country when you were too young to remember anything had something to do with that). So if you need to make reference to your Caribbean heritage (Even though I really prefer you didn’t) maybe you could stand to look us up on the local newspapers. Believe it or not, most of them are actually online now. With pictures! Bonus!
Okay, maybe that last part sounded a little like a hater.